The pipedream of the Los Angeles Lakers signing two max free agents during the 2018 off-season was always regarded as just that – a pipedream.
Not only would the Lakers need to convince two max free agents to come to Los Angeles, an area where they’ve struggled in recent memory, but they’d also need to make moves on their current roster to facilitate the signing of two max free agents.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the likes of President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson from continually reiterating the Lakers’ plans for the summer remain unchanged. The front office has made moves necessary to begin the process of clearing cap space for the upcoming summer and appear to be at the point of no return.
Thus, that makes Thursday’s ESPN article from Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst a tough pill to swallow. While it’s not entirely a shock, the duo reports that the Lakers are still a “longshot” to land the services of James this summer.
So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources. Still, expect the atmosphere, and the intrigue, to be as thick as the winter storm battering Cleveland when the Lakers and Cavaliers play Thursday night.
Again, this isn’t necessarily a surprise or even new information. Signing James has always been considered a hail mary. As we’ve seen in the past, luring a free agent away from the incumbent team is a tough task that few teams have been able to do.
When that player is linked as closely as James is to Cleveland? The odds were always stacked heavily against the Lakers.
Does this change the Lakers’ plan? It won’t and nor should it. In reality, this changes little about the approach the Lakers were going to have. While James is the pie in the sky in terms of free agents next summer, there are multiple other potential max free agents that will be available like Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins.
Nonetheless, it’s another step in what will be a long road to July 1, 2018.